Cheryl and I took a wonderful day trip to the Catskills last week. Our first stop was at our favorite roadside restaurant. After spending the better part of an hour enjoying the peeling paint, signage, barbed wire and grapevines we headed up to our favorite resort. There we visited the greenhouse and potting shed, spent some time at the indoor skating rink and in the game house. We moved on to the natatorium where we relaxed and whiled away an hour or so by the pool. Finally we wound our way up to the hotel and visited several rooms. Not much happening there so – back outside to explore the grounds a bit before heading home. I love the Catskills!
Shooting and working on these photographs was a somber process. While in the buildings I was struck by the presence of the past; it was as if the patients were still there in spirit, looking over my shoulder and protecting themselves and the space. I was careful not to disturb anything – as careful as one would be in a friend’s home. There were toys and dolls around each corner – it’s likely many of these were props used by other photographers – but, still, I left them just so. Processing the images was a journey in itself. There were some surprises and some unexpected finds. I hope that my reverence for what these images represent shows through. They aren’t meant to exploit, but to pay homage.
This was a school and home for children with disabilities. The institution closed in the late 1980’s, and in its sixty-two years thousands of children with myriad diagnoses were housed in the wards of several buildings that made up the campus. The institution was self-contained, with recreational facilities, play areas, gardens and greenhouses and treatment rooms. I was allowed access to two buildings and these are some of the images created.
These factories hold their histories together with dust and concrete. Paint peels from the walls and ceilings, there is evidence of vandalism, artifacts are left to crumble. But rooms and objects in them are brushed to a soft patina by the spirits of the people who worked and gossiped and played here. Light filters through dusted, broken glass and breaches through walls and ceilings. Water finds its way to vast galleries to sit still as glass. Even as we pass through it we try not to cause a ripple; we hold a great reverence for the place and what it once meant to its people.
Click on image to view gallery
Click on image to View Gallery
Every day I drive over a short bridge into City Island from Pelham Bay Park. As I approach the crossing the mingled aromas of salt, sea and brine filter through my car and remind me I’m almost home.
In the winter months I arrive with the sunset. I stop along the way to photograph sea and sky defined by the atmospheric changes that create the colors for the day. It’s a small ritual to pull over, rest a moment before the landscape, and then photograph it.
Sharing the sunset daily links me to nature, and then to you, my friends. We’re all bonded by this daily spectacle and this creates an intimacy between us, even though we may be separated by long miles made up of land, sea and sky.